Separate institutional structure needed for the development of char regions
"There needs to be a separate institutional structure for the development of char regions" stated speakers in the annual Regional Char Convention 2021 on 5 December in Rangpur. USAID funded SHOUHARDO III program, implemented by CARE Bangladesh, and in association with the National Char Alliance (NCA), jointly organised this day-long event. The agenda of this event was to discuss the state and progress of char development initiatives in the country and explore avenues of gaining agreement by relevant stakeholders on an 'Engagement Plan for Development Initiatives for the Char Region' that may indicate key areas for development efforts. AKM Enamul Hoque Shameem, MP, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of Bangladesh was the Chief Guest for the opening session. Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, MP, Member of Parliament (Gaibandha 1), Member, Standing Committee on Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and MA Matin, MP, Member of Parliament (Kurigram 3), were present as the Chief Guests in the other sessions. Ramesh Singh, Country Director, CARE Bangladesh presided over the closing session.
Keeping the Regional Char Convention 2021 in view, USAID's SHOUHARDO III program, implemented by CARE Bangladesh, along with the NCA, organized a set of pre-event consultations with representatives from government agencies, private sector, business communities, development practitioners, and CSOs/NGOs working in the char region. The pre-event consultation meetings supported in attaining the objective of the Regional Char Convention 2021 which was to build a shared understanding and gain consensus among relevant stakeholders towards comprehensive and coordinated development efforts for the char regions and come to an agreement by the key stakeholders on an Engagement Plan for Development Initiatives for the Char Region to track the development commitments and deliveries.
Dr Atiur Rahman, Founding Chair, National Char Alliance and ex-Governor of Bangladesh Bank emphasized on establishing an institutional structure or forum for the development of char regions of Bangladesh. He also mentioned that among the BDT 1000 crore of the Social Safety Net, only BDT 217 crore have been allocated for the char region covering a population of only 94,000. This allocation has to be at least 20% of the total social safety net budget, he added. ADP allocation for char regions should be at least 30% he emphasized.
Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, MP, Honorable Member of Parliament (Gaibandha 1), Member, Standing Committee on Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, mentioned that Bangladesh is second after China considering the climate-induced migration and on top regarding climate-induced child vulnerability. About the necessity of an institutional structure for the char region, he stated "We need to establish a semi-government Char Foundation/ Board to lead the efforts for the development of the char region." Uninterrupted policy interventions are needed for the development of chars, he added.
AKM Enamul Hoque Shameem, MP, Honorable Deputy Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of Bangladesh highlighted the char development interventions by the Government of Bangladesh specially by Ministry of Water Resources. In this regard, he mentioned about the Char Development and Settlement project-5 led by Bangladesh Water Development Board. About the Mujib Fort (shelters), he mentioned it as an innovative model where both people and cattle can take refuge during natural disasters. Shameem also acknowledged the role of non-government organizations and NGOs and expressed that all should be working together for the development of the lives of the char people.
Marc Nosbach, Chief of Party, SHOUHARDO III, CARE Bangladesh, mentioned that women and adolescent girls living in char areas are among the worst affected, as they are denied an equal and equitable say in decision-making in family and community. Despite various development efforts by various actors and the GoB, the population of the char region often remains isolated and in many cases development benefits do not reach them adequately, he added.
SHOUHARDO III program and RIMES jointly implemented 'Improved Weather and Flood Information System for Community Based Risk and Resource Management in Bangladesh' from July 2019 to September 2021. The project was implemented in 15 unions of 13 sub-districts under the eight SHOUHARDO III districts of char and haor regions, targeting 10,197 people from the livelihood groups of agriculture and livestock. This project made an effort to enable risk and resource management in poor and extreme poor communities by providing community-focused and multi-sectoral action-oriented forecast information that will enhance their resilience and eventually reduce livelihood risks. The objective of the said workshop was to share the experiences and learnings of this recently phased-out project with USAID and relevant government stakeholders. To know more about SHOUHARDO III program, visit: https://shouhardo.carebangladesh.org/